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A Gun For Christmas




A Gun For Christmas from the 1950's series Dragnet


Audio/Visual sound, BW


Reviews

Reviewer: benkid77 - - March 4, 2012
Subject: "He's hurt pretty badly Mr Martin"
An engrossing episode, but I was surprised at the above line and the failure of the detectives to immediately tell the father that his son was dead. This almost made it seem for a few moments like his son was merely hurt! I know it must be difficult for them to state the awful truth, but surely it's wrong to give false hope, no matter how briefly.

Other than that, a well done episode. Watching this from a British perspective, some interesting cultural differences are apparent. The mother (a housewife) and 9-year old kid rattle off phrases like "it's a 45 automatic" and "I killed Steve with the 22" in quite a matter-of-fact way.

They have a familiarity with guns in a way that we Brits might talk about some everyday inconsequential items like an AA battery cell or an office stapler! But as this was not too long after WWII, perhaps the era has more to do with that. Generally in Britain, only some criminals/gangsters and certain specialist police have guns, and the caliber of a firearm is something that 99% of the law-abiding general population would not have the faintest clue about, including myself.

Having said that, similar tragic incidents have actually occurred over here in recent years involving some small minority of gun-owning families where young children have accidentally shot a sibling. So the defining line of the story, "you don't give a kid a gun for Christmas" is undeniably universal wherever you are! Although in this story, the gun was lovingly wrapped with nice paper and a Christmas tag, I have to say. I could just never imagine someone using wrapping paper on a gun over here, even if we could buy them - (i.e. it's something which can kill people and therefore seems incongruous) I guess it's just a cultural thing. I recall a similar point was mentioned by a recent English newspaper correspondent in the USA. I should say that I personally don't take a stance on the issue, I'm neither a proponent or otherwise of gun laws in any country, but this episode really highlights this difference in attitudes very well IMHO.

All in all though it's a quite harrowing episode, well acted. I guess the bit about the father giving the presents to the kid who shot his son is stretching things quite a bit. Although, if he was adhering to the more prevailing Christian attitudes of the time, then I can understand his forgiveness and subsequent gesture. After all it was Christmas! Still, it all happened a bit too quickly - perhaps the shock hadn't quite hit him yet. I'm sure any parent would inevitably go through a phase of anger first, before coming to terms with it so well. And of course the problem is the boy might think it's not a bad idea to shoot any other kids who might be getting better presents than him, which would not really be giving him the right message now would it?

Overall though I recommend the episode, and I like the fact these shows are nice and short and concisely done, with really not a minute wasted. Thought provoking too.
Reviewer: uniQ - - April 16, 2011
Subject: "[for] some— heartbreak"
The famous "22 rifle for Christmas" episode. Because one family decides to get a gun for their boy, a series of events leads to his friend being fatally shot.

This one's too hard to rate so I'm skipping that.
Reviewer: richgoup - - March 20, 2011
Subject: The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas (Dragnet).
Season 2, episode 7.
Original air date: 18 December 1952.
Friday and Smith search for a missing boy. The first sign that the case is serious is when blood is found. Further probing reveals the boy`s parents had purchased him a .22-caliber rifle for Christmas -- and the weapon is missing, removed from its wrapped package.
Cast: Jack Webb (Sgt. Joe Friday), Herb Ellis (Officer Frank Smith), Wm. Johnstone (John Martin), June Whitley (Mrs. Johnstone), Sammy Ogg (Stanley Johnstone), Virginia Christine (Mrs. Martin), Rennie McEvoy (Officer Doherty), Olan Soule (Ray Pinker), George Fenneman (Announcer opening: uncredited) and Hal Gibney (Announcer Closing: uncredited).
From IMDB.
Reviewer: nellybly99 - - December 25, 2010
Subject: Not the original episode title
I went to look it up on IMDb by episode and couldn't find it. Then I looked up the show title and looked at the episode list. The original title was "The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas" which makes sense. I wondered since the title given here didn't match the pattern of "The Big . . . " that was part of most episode titles.

As to giving the boy his friend's presents, well he realized that nothing could bring his boy back and the other boy was carrying quite a load of grief himself. Plus the gifts would only serve as a reminder of a child who couldn't use them. Wonder what Mrs. Martin thought of the decision when she came to herself? I would think that looking at the gifts and knowing how he got them would really lay a load of guilt on the Johnstone boy. Or set him on the path of killing for gain! j/k

Interesting coincidence that Mr. Martin was played by William JOHNSTONE.
Reviewer: Earlon - - February 22, 2010
Subject: A catalog site for Classic TV shows
If you like Classic TV from of the 50's, I found a catalog site that makes it easy to find and watch episodes streaming from Archive.org at:

The Classic TV Channel

There are currently over 400 individual episodes of about 30 different programs, and the site is growing day by day. Check it out!
Reviewer: ERaven24 - - January 1, 2009
Subject: A Gun For Christmas
This is another one I thought was handled well accept for the ending. I can't see a father giving the kid that just killed his son his child's gifts. Still very well acted
Reviewer: Big Boomer - - May 9, 2008
Subject: A Gun for Christmas
Kids should not play with guns is a good message. But the lack of believability here makes this treatment heavy-handed. No detective would finger the cartridge at a suspected crime scene. Coroners do not move dead bodies to their bedrooms (nor do police detectives). Good message but overly maudlin.
Reviewer: twainbough - - February 26, 2008
Subject: Dragnet at its BEST.
Dragnet was seldom a series to hit you over the head with a message. But when it chooses to, it really packs a whallop. This episode is must viewing for all the youth of the world.
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